Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spices and Salts Matter

Do you remember when you were growing and you watched your mother or grandmother cook; there was the blue box of salt with the little girl with the yellow umbrella. Now we use all kinds of salts for our cooking, baking and finishing of meals.  I love this Australian Flake Salt by on freshly fried french fries. It gives them just the right amount of salt and they seem like a gourmet treat.
The Victoria Gourmet's Celtic Sea Salt is great for baking. I made some simple butter cookies filled with chopped pecans and rolled in powdered sugar, and used this sea salt and they came out superb!  you had a little salty surprise to balance out the richness of the unsalted butter and the sweet powdered sugar.

When I am cooking and need to add salt I love the Trapani Sea Salt. It is so versatile in it uses.

I use this salt to boil pastas, rice and when I roast garlic. I never knew that salt could make such a difference in the finished product of a dish. Spices are also a big punch of flavor when cooking a meal. I've always told you how I love their Herbes de Provence.

 It is great on salmon, chicken and vegetables. The flavor makes you feel like you are cooking and eating a dish from the French countryside. I love to serve a Pinot Noir when I create a salmon or chicken dish with Herbes de Provence. This one from Davis Bynum makes a great pairing when using this spice.

Tasting Notes:   This wine is a lovely dark garnet color. The nose is filled with aromas of bright red fruit flavors, (cherries), a bit of dust, a hint of caramel and spice. The palate mimics the nose with a silky mouth feel. This wine paired well with a turkey rubbed with an herb infused compound butter. It would also pair well with roasted chicken, pork roast and salmon. Note: This was a sample from Rodney Strong Vineyards.

Winery Tasing Notes:  Ferrari-Carano’s Italian heritage is reflected in this Sangiovese-based, easy-sipping, multi-dimensional blend. Select lots of grapes were chosen from our vineyards in Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys to create a beautifully balanced and medium-bodied wine. SIENA has delicious aromas of cherries, blackberries and currants complemented by sweet vanilla oak and caramel. On the palate, this wine offers ripe, juicy, baked berry pie with anise, cocoa and cola flavors, with lively acidity, supple tannins and a lingering finish. Note: I have not sampled this vintage of Siena, but previous vintages have paired well with Tuscan inspired meals.

Victoria Gourmet also makes a Tuscan Seasoning. I love to add this seasoning to red pasta sauces and to meatballs when I create Italian inspired meals.  This seasoning is also good in a marinade for meat to be placed on the grill. I love to pair this spice with a Tuscan inspired wine like Siena

This seafood seasoning works so well on grilled or broiled fish. You can use it sparingly because it is so flavorful. It also works well on oven roasted grilled shrimp to eat as an appetizer with cocktail sauce or a mayonnaise based dipping sauce with capers. I would also use this as a component to a marinade for seafood that would be placed on the grill. A great wine that would pair well with grilled fish prepared with this seafood seasoning would be Women of the Vine Chardonnay.

This wine is a straw color. The nose is tropical with aromas of pineapple, citrus, and honey. The palate mimics the nose with an addition of a hint of spice. Even though this wine has not seen oak, it seems to have oak integrated with the fruit. This component gives this wine structure and makes this a wine to be paired with food. I would pair this wine with roast chicken, pork roast, grilled fish and grilled shrimp. Note: This wine was a sample provided by Women of the Vine Cellars The SRP  is $13.99.

I never brined a chicken before I used their Traditional Brining Blend. It made my chicken so flavorful and juicy. I followed the instructions on the jar and just added my half of sweet onion, half stalk of celery, a bay leaf and a sprig of rosemary inside of my chicken. I then rubbed my chicken with olive oil and a sprinkle of Tony Chachere's Creole  Seasoning. Be mindful of any additional salt, because the brine is seasoned well. I just can't resist adding a little taste of home on my roast chicken. 

I have several more spices from this gourmet line of spices to review, so stay tuned for more spice reviews.
Victoria Gourmet has so many wonderful spices that you should go online and give a few of them a try. Note: These were samples provided by Victoria Gourmet.

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